NHS England has announced that eight temporary ‘Nightingale’ hospitals will begin housing patients to cope with spiking Omicron cases

England’s medical service is opening temporary Covid “surge hubs” in a bid to provide extra hospital beds for infected individuals after the NHS’ medical director warned doctors are on a “war footing.”

Eight locations will be set up, with enough space for 100 patients each and launching later this week, NHS England said on Thursday. Alongside the new sites, the NHS will explore areas which could house a further 4,000 “super surge” beds, such as gyms and schools.

The plan to cope with an increase in hospital admissions comes after the UK logged a record 183,037 new daily Covid infections on Wednesday. Hospitalizations in England due to Covid have risen above 10,000 for the first time since March.

“Given the high level of Covid-19 infections and increasing hospital admissions, the NHS is now on a war footing,” NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said.

Given the number of infections we cannot wait to find out before we act and so work is beginning from today to ensure these facilities are in place.

Concern about the ability of the NHS to cope with hospital admissions follows a warning from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) that the nation could run out of lateral flow and PCR tests. Due to “exceptionally high demand,” people reported being unable to book Covid tests across multiple regions on Wednesday.

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The lack of testing has increased fears about the risk of New Year’s Eve celebrations going ahead, as an immunologist at Imperial College warned the situation has created “absolutely perfect” conditions for Covid to spread rapidly.

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